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Google+ Changes: What you need to know

In December 2018, Google announced that the consumer version of Google+ is shutting down in April 2019.  As the usage lines between the consumer and business versions of Google+ have often been blurry, we want to clear up some of the confusion following the notices you may be getting from Google.

What is happening?
  • The consumer version of Google+ is going away.
    • If employees have setup Google+ accounts or communities not using their G Suite account, this content will be deleted.
    • If you have a Google+ circles or communities with “consumer” members, these users will be removed along with their content
  • You will no longer be able to create public communities outside of your G Suite domain.
  • The business version of Google+ is changing. You will no longer have pages, events, or the “tagline” profile field within the Google+ service.
  • If you cancel your G Suite service, all content in Google+ will be removed
What should you do?

The first step is to ask your users if they are using Google+ and, if so, how they are using the service.  If Google+ is not in use, no action is required.  If Google+ is in use, your next steps are determined by how you are using the service.

Google is updating the download tools for Google+ in March to include author, body, and photos for every post.  Once this is available, plan to download and save content you want to keep …

  • Posts from Google+ communities outside your G Suite Domain owned or managed by your users
  • Google+ Pages and Events of any type
  • Your Google+ tagline (download your profile)

In addition, you will want to:

  • Upgrade the Google+ Android app between Feb 22nd and March 7th.  After March 7, 2019, the current versions of the app will be unsupported.
  • Remove any Google+ gadgets from any classic Google Sites you may have
  • Have users opt out of the Google Play Services Public Beta Program to avoid issues with other Google apps, such as Email and Hangouts

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

G Suite

G Suite Price Hike: Your Next Steps

G SuiteAnytime a vendor critical to your business changes their product and pricing, it is tempting to reassess. We may see the world differently than other IT providers, but we, the team at Cumulus Global, strongly agree.  Now is a good time to examine your cloud services, as part of your full IT ecosystem, and determine if it is the right time to make a change for the better.

Step 1: Look Inward: Utilization

The first step is to look at your current service, and evaluate how well you are using its capabilities to operate and improve your business. By looking at your utilization today and what features and capabilities you expect to use in the future, you can decide if your current subscription is best or if you should consider an upgrade.

If you are running G Suite Basic or G Suite Business:

  • Are you using it solely for email, calendars, or contacts or are your using the collaboration features?  
  • Does Drive, or can Drive and Team Drives, serve as your primary file service?  
  • Are you paying for separate services, such as teleconferencing and web/video conferencing, that are included within G Suite at no additional cost?

Understanding the capabilities of each G Suite subscription and asking the right questions, you assess how you will use G Suite going forward.  Contact us, we are here to help.

Step 2: Look Outward

Currently, about 30% of our client migrations to G Suite and Office 365 are from another cloud service, not from on-premise or hosted email servers.  While this number may be surprising to some, for us it makes sense. Companies that moved to G Suite or Office 365 several years ago are looking at how the cloud has advanced how their businesses have changed, and how their overall IT needs and services have evolved.  

Is now the time to switch?

The decision to switch from G Suite to Office 365, or vice versa, makes solid business sense for for some of our current and prospective clients. For some, they remain reliant on the desktop MS Office suite and want better integration. For others, they have business apps running on MS SQL Server and want the integrated business intelligence and analytic capabilities of Office 365. For still others, a unified security infrastructure covering desktops, laptops, and mobile devices is the driving need.

If you think switching is a worthwhile consideration, we are offering our Productivity Cloud Assessment and Recommendations at no cost through March 31, 2019.  Complete our Cloud Productivity Questionnaire and we will schedule a Cloud Advisor Session and present you with our assessment and recommendations. The service, normally $895, will help you jump start the process for considering a change in platform.

Additionally, check out this blog post for ways to mitigate the price increase.

Step 3: Talk to Us

Whether you expect to stay the course or change directions, we are here to help. Because we partner Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other cloud providers, you get our objective assessment and recommendations. Because we understand small and midsize businesses, you will get pragmatic advice and solutions focused on your needs and desired outcomes.

Please take advantage of our experience and expertise.

G Suite

Managing the Impact of the G Suite Price Increase

G SuiteTo help manage the impact of the pricing increase, we are able to offer renewal and upgrade discounts based on your current licensing. Converting from Monthly/Flex to Annual locks in the current pricing for a year. Upgrading your G Suite Version provides you a discount off the current upgrade pricing for 12 to 24 months.

Convert Monthly/Flex to Annual

  • For clients using G Suite Basic or G Suite Business on the Monthly/Flex plan, we can mitigate the increase by switching you to the annual prepaid plan before the end of March.  
  • Doing so secures the current $50 per user or $120 per user annual cost until your renewal in 2020.

G Suite Basic to Business Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Basic, you can take advantage of upgrade discounts to G Suite Business.
  • The discounts up to 33% off current prices based on the commitments of 12, 15, or 18 months.
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

G Suite Business to Enterprise Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Business, you can upgrade to G Suite Business with discounts up to 38% off current pricing, based on the term commitment of up to 24 months.  
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

While we expect additional upgrade incentives after the price increase takes effect, the above offers expire at the end of March.

To assess your G Suite service and determine if any of these options are right for you, please contact us for a Cloud Advisor Session.

G Suite

G Suite Price Increase

G SuiteAs you are likely aware, Google announced a 20% price increase for G Suite Basic and G Suite Business Editions, along with a discontinuation of the discounted pricing for G Suite Basic when prepaid annually.

The Basics

Effective April 2, 2019, the pricing for G Suite Business and G Suite Basic will increase as noted in the table, below.


License

Current
As of
Apr 1, 2019
Effective
Increase
G Suite Basic, Flex/Monthly $5 / user $6 /user 20%
G Suite Basic, Annual $50 / user $72 / user 44%
G Suite Business, Flex/Monthly $10 / user $12 / user 20%
G Suite Business, Annual $120 / user $144 / user 20%

 

For organizations on the monthly/flex plan, the price increase takes effect as of April 2, 2019.

For companies on an annual plan, the price increase takes effect with your next annual renewal on or after April 2, 2019

If you took advantage of an upgrade promotion, your current pricing will remain through the end of the current 12, 15, or 18 month promotional period.

If you have a “Switch and Save” discount from Cumulus Global, your discount is a percentage off Google’s published pricing. Cumulus Global continue those percentage discounts off Google’s new pricing.

Why is Google Raising Prices?

As posted by Google:

More than a decade ago, we introduced Gmail—our first cloud-native productivity app—to help make email safer and easier for everyone. Since then, we pioneered more ways for teams to collaborate in real-time with products like Google Calendar, Docs, Drive and Hangouts. Together, these apps make up G Suite, our set of intelligent, secure productivity and collaboration tools.

We’ve brought businesses more than a dozen new G Suite services to help them reimagine how they work, including powerful video conferencing (Hangouts Meet), secure team messaging (Hangouts Chat) and enterprise-grade search capabilities(Cloud Search). We’ve also infused our products with advanced artificial intelligence to make it easier to respond to emailsgather insights from data and protect against phishing attacks before they happen.

Today, more than four million organizations use G Suite to collaborate efficiently and securely, and analysts have taken notice. IDC’s Wayne Kurtzman notes, “Google has established G Suite as a secure, enterprise-ready, AI–powered productivity and collaboration platform. With its broad set of capabilities, G Suite offers a strong value proposition to customers.”

Over the last ten years, G Suite has grown to provide more tools, functionality and value to help businesses transform the way they work.

In our opinion, G Suite still represents a good value for most businesses, particularly those moving to cloud-based applications and systems. We discuss ways to mitigate the impact of the price increase in this blog post.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Partner for Productivity

Partnering for G Suite Productivity

Partner for ProductivityG Suite is more than an email, calendar, and simple file sharing service.  G Suite is a productivity suite that serves as a platform for a range of tools that helps your team, and your business, work more effectively.

9 ways your team can be more productive with G Suite:

  1. Share Files, Not Copies:
    Stop sending attachments. Stop wasting time figuring out of the copy of the file in you inbox, on your local drive, or on a shared folder is the most current. Whether you use Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations or you continuing using Microsoft Office, Google Drive and Team Drives serves your files rather than just sharing them.  People share via link, so all comments, suggestions, and edits are made within a single copy of the file. Versioning keeps this orderly and gives you the ability to look back and compare.
  2. Serve Files, Not File Servers:
    Use Team Drives and Drive File Stream to provide users with “explorer” access to files from Macs, PCs, and local software. Store files under central ownership and managed permissions; avoid performance and capacity problems with unlimited storage. Allow team members to work remotely and securely on computers, tablets, and mobile devices without VPNs and remote desktop services slowing things down.
  3. Communicate, Don’t Just Text:
    Most laptops now have microphones, speakers, and Bluetooth features similar to your smartphones and tablets. Have face to face conversations using Hangouts Meet instead of long email threads, phone tag, or text messaging. Communication is 55% non-verbal. Let you employees see and hear each other, your vendors, and your customers. You can share screens to live document reviews and discussions. Why pay extra for a conferencing service?
  4. Collaboration, Don’t Just Comment:
    True, Google Docs allow contributors to comment and suggest edits. You can also collaborate in real-time or as each participant is able. Version history lets you look back at who contributed, when, and where. You can name versions to track official revisions or specific working copies of documents.
  5. Schedule Productivity, Not Just Appointments:
    Your personal and shared calendars track your time as well as project or team activities. Resource calendars let you book rooms or any scheduled resource. Integrated with Hangout Meets, automatically include voice and video conferencing for the human touch. Integrated with Chrome for Meetings and you have 1-click video conferencing with screen sharing in your conference rooms.
  6. Manage Customer Relationships, Not Data:
    Integrated CRM applications, automatically pull person and company data into your CRM records and automatically track inbound and outbound emails with your prospects. Side panel gives you “pane of glass” access and context from within your Gmail inbox.
  7. Manage Communications, Not Data:
    Integrated sales and marketing tools, empower you team to better manage marketing, sales, and service communications without leaving your Gmail inbox.  Templates, mail merge, and tracking save time and energy as you drive your sales pipeline forward.
  8. Automate Tasks, Not People:
    Automate workflows and repetitive tasks, and build simple apps to boost productivity with AppMaker. The Low-code/no-code tool means you don’t need a cadre of programmers. Free up task time for more valuable activities.
  9. Protect Your Business; Not Just Data:
    Compliant archiving and e-discovery covers your email communications and your documents. Integrated solutions provide third party backup/recovery protection from accidental or intentional damage and loss. Cloud-to-cloud backup is less costly and requires less admin effort than traditional file server protection services.

Get the most value from your G Suite platform:

  • Verify you are on the right version of G Suite, with the capabilities that best meet your needs
  • Help your team learn how to use the G Suite apps to their fullest
  • Integrate 3rd party solutions for line of business needs, such as marketing, sales, and service

Please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor session to discuss getting the most value from G Suite.


 

G Suite

G Suite Business Upgrade Incentives

G SuiteThrough June 30, 2018, you can upgrade from G Suite Basic to G Suite Business and save up to 33%.

To qualify, you must:

  • Running G Suite Basic with at least 1 user (no minimum user limit)
  • Upgrade before June 3o, 2018
  • If you are on an annual commitment plan, you can upgrade during your renewal
  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can upgrade at anytime
  • Contact us and let us know you want the savings

Why G Suite Business?

  • Unlimited Gmail and Drive Storage
  • Team Drives for central ownership and management of files
  • Email Archiving, eDiscovery, DLP for simple legal compliance
  • Advanced reports and admin alerts for better usage visibility
  • “Org” unit controls to adjust access and sharing rights by department
  • THE platform for new features, such as AppMaker and AI/machine learning enabled services

For more information, contact us, or see what our clients say about G Suite Business.


 

G Suite

Driving G Suite Upgrades

G SuiteG Suite Business is the recommended G Suite subscription for most small and midsize businesses. Many of our clients have upgraded already, so we asked them what is driving them to make the move. In no particular order, our clients tell us that with G Suite Business, you get:

Better File Services

  • Team Drives gives you central ownership and management of files.
  • Combined with Drive File Stream, you can create a file service that looks and feels more like a file server and benefit from easier integration with desktop applications. (We blogged about this in Oct ’17)
  • Unlimited storage gives you the ability to move files from servers and workstations without worry.
  • You can offload inactive files from past projects, prior years, etc., into online, secure, searchable archives. This can save you from upgrading or replacing on-premise servers and storage.

Help with Compliance

  • The Vault service included with G Suite Business is a critical component for your information security and compliance requirements, including HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes/Oxley, SEC, and FINRA.
  • Vault archives and provides compliant e-discovery for email, files in Drive, and Hangout chats.

Cost Savings

  • You can retire servers in remote offices with Drive and Team Drive, eliminating the need for on-premise server upgrades and replacements, backup, and support.
  • You can reduce or eliminate NAS, SAN, file servers, and local storage, all of which require local/offsite backup, maintenance, and support.
  • If you have multiple sites, you can replace point-to-point networks, MPLS, and VPNs with direct Internet access service, at considerable savings.
  • You can replace Active Directory with a cloud-based identity manager or SSO solution; you can retire your AD domain controllers.

New Features

  • With G Suite Business, you get new features, like Team Drives and AppMaker, that are not available in G Suite Basic.

If you are interested in how G Suite Business can help you and your team, please let us know.  We have special incentives in place through June 30, 2017.


 

Drive File Stream

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Drive File StreamLast month, Google (finally) released Drive File Stream. Unlike the Drive Sync Client it replaces, Drive File Stream provides “mapped drive” access to files in Drive. In doing so, you can browse, search, and use Drive like you would any mapped drive through Windows File Explorer and Finder on Macs. By mapping and using a cache, you have access to all of your Drive contents without having to sync all of your content to your device. While you can still select files and folders to sync for offline access, the Drive File Client gives you and your local applications access to your files in Drive.

The Real Value is with Team Drives

As a second improvement over Drive Sync Client, Drive File Stream connects you to both your “My Drive” and “Team Drive” hierarchies. The integration with Team drives, in particular, adds specific value. Team Drives provide file sharing hierarchies that include many traits of a traditional file serves. With Team Drives, the system owns the space and administrators centrally manage permissions. You can grant members of Team Drives limited administrative rights and you can control which members can view, comment, and edit files and folders. Permissions are hierarchical with inheritance pushing permissions down to subfolders and files.

Combining Team Drives and Drive File Stream gives you a “file server like” experiences. You use your local apps, browsing and searching for files in Explorer or Finder. You open, work with, and save files like you do for local files and files on traditional file servers. You manage permission by Team Drive and your folder hierarchy. And while you do not have all of the granularity with Team Drives as you do with a Windows File Server, for example, you have enough to build a managed file service. Because of the differences in permissions granularity, you are more likely to have more Team Drives than you might have top level folders on a traditional file server.

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Combining Team Drives and Google File Stream does not give you all of the features and functions of a traditional file server. By creating a managed file service, however, you do have the power to manage access and use of your data and information. And better than a traditional file server, your managed file service will server the needs of user with local, traditional applications and those working in the cloud.


Best Practice: Plan your team memberships and permission, hierarchies, and management strategies before you start building your Managed File Service using Team Drives and Drive File Stream. Contact us for a Cloud Advisory session to discuss your needs and project.


 

Google Drive

Picking the Right Google Drive Client

Google DriveToday is the day that Google makes Drive File Stream generally available to all G Suite users. As of December 11, 2017, Google will fully deprecate and end support for the old Google Drive Client that has, up until now, provided users with the ability to sync and share files between Drive and their devices. Recently, Google also released Backup and Sync.

Which Drive Client is Right for You?

Briefly, Backup and Sync is a personal utility that Google has publicly classified as a “consumer” tool. Drive File Stream is a support part of G Suite and is designed for business users. For most businesses, even small businesses, Drive File Stream will be best. While Drive File Stream will not let you sync other local folders, it will provide “native drive” access to both My Drive and Team Drives. This style of access gives you nearly universal access to files in Drive from local applications, without large sync directories and large local storage demands.

A Deeper Look

Feature Drive File Stream Backup and Sync
Access files in My Drive Y Y
Access files in Team Drives Y
Stream files on demand Y
Sync only selected folders in My Drive Y Y
Sync only individual files in My Drive Y
Use native applications like MS Word and Photoshop Y Y
Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop Y

Better Look and Feel

Drive File Stream will have a new look on your local machine, instead of syncing between a “Google Drive” folder and My Drive, Drive File Stream will appear as a local disk:

  • Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Devices
  • Windows 7: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under My Computer and Favorites
  • Windows 10: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under This PC and Quick Access

Sync & Share

You will still be able to flag folders (and individual files!) for sync to the local disk for offline and high-performance access.

How You Work ...

How you Work Influences Which Cloud is Right for You

How You Work ...Both G Suite (Google Apps) and Microsoft Office 365 provide cloud productivity tools and a foundation for a productive cloud ecosystem. Several factors influence which cloud is best for you. Having discussed culture clash and line of business apps in past posts, I want to focus on how you — and your team — work.

  • How much work is on-site? How much needs to be on-site?
  • How often is work done while mobile/remote? How critical is this work?
  • What is the balance between individual and team assignments?
  • Are teams a collection of individuals working on their own assignments or a collaborative group?
  • Are teams organized according to the organization hierarchy or by purpose, goal, or function?
  • Does your team need, or have, access to data from line of business systems?
  • How often is “copy/paste” or data re-entry a part of your workday?

These questions, and others, highlight that how we work as individuals and teams can vary greatly.

Organizations with higher numbers of mobile users, for example, tend to prefer ease of individual access to files over hierarchical organization.

Collaborative teams thrive when they have ready access to chat, video conferencing, co-editing, and social tools, whereas teams of individual contributors tend to rely on email and periodic meetings.

When work roles require access to data across line of business apps, integration is seen as more important than advanced features.

When deciding which cloud, consider how you and your team work now, as well as how you want to work in the future. Map these requirements to the cloud ecosystem you intend to build to ensure that you do not create roadblocks to your own success.


Complete our Which Cloud Survey and we will provide you with a custom Assessment and Recommendation report.  Normally a $895 service, it is yours free and without obligation through August 2017. Click here for more info and to start the survey.